MP: ‘Borough Market traders ineligible for £2million coronavirus support over loophole’

Josh Salisbury (10 April, 2020)

Market traders pay business rates collectively - meaning they are exempt from coronavirus grants for small businesses

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Borough Market traders are missing out on around £2million of government support because of a loophole, an MP has warned.

Businesses at the popular attraction are unable to claim business rates relief, as they do not pay these directly to the council.

Instead, the market as a whole is deemed the bill payer – meaning traders could be missing out on up to £2million in government grants, warns MP Neil Coyle.

In a letter to the Chancellor, Mr Coyle said: “In the current circumstances, traders deserve all the support that they can get, but due to the unique make-up of Borough Market and the system put in place by the Government, stallholders are being denied access to the cash grants that have been made available for small businesses. 

“I am sure this was unintentional and can be remedied.”

Borough Market was dealt a severe blow in the aftermath of the 2017 London Bridge terror attack – which forced it to close temporarily – and this exemption could jeopardise its recovery, said Mr Coyle.

“In 2017 Borough Market faced the unprecedented challenge of recovering from the impact of the London Bridge terror attack,” added the Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP. 

“Since then it has continued to go from strength to strength, but failing to support it at this crucial time would jeopardise its recovery from the tragedy it experienced less than three years ago.”

The gap in the government’s support program affects those small businesses who pay business rates collectively.

Small businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure are eligible for grants of up to £25,000.

But government guidance states: “Businesses which are not ratepayers in the business rates system are not included in this scheme.”

Borough Market is continuing to operate throughout the crisis, as it supplies food. However, social distancing measures are being enforced, and deliveries have also been expanded.

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